The best way to conquer your fear is to face it.
A year ago, I embarked on this journey of self-improvement, discovery & adventure to celebrate my Quarter of a Century.
One of the main things I wanted to do was to learn how to swim. All through my life, in primary, secondary school & even in NS I was taught how to swim. Funny thing was that I was certified by SSC to be level 1 swimmer. But I just could not swim.
The turning point was definitely on a roadtrip I took with two of my friends, Brandon & Brenda last year. On the way to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, we stumbled on a sign saying “Cedar Creek Falls”, & decided to make the turn in to check it out.
When we arrived, there were many people jumping off the peak of the waterfall into the water below. It was at least 10-15m high. I wanted to do it do bad, but the only thing I feared was being unable to swim after I jumped down. All I could do was eat my meatball footlong sub & watch people jump. Eventually, we left the place, & it has been bugging me since.
After much consideration, many months later, I decided that I would learn how to swim, & finish a triathlon. One day I will head back to that waterfall to jump down.
After an awe inspiring new year celebration in Tokyo, where I did all the customary things, (ie Counting down in Shibuya, visiting the Meijijingu Shrine, having the most awesome soba noodles for smooth transition, watching the first Sunrise, etc), I knew it was going to be a good year.
Little did I know everything was about to change. A week after I got back from my trip, on my way to have a haircut, I was involved in a bicycle accident. I was rushed to the emergency ward by ambulance. Had to do a surgery to fix my broken face, & had to be hospitalised for two weeks.
The road to recovery was not easy, having all the energy in the world but your body not being able to utilise it caused me to be irritable & restless.
However, not once did I give up. Even in the hospital bed I was telling people that I’m gonna come back stronger than ever.
I had to get back on my feet, learning from scratch how to walk again. The first time I had a chance, I went back to the track to do my 2.4km. I finished in a time of 32mins. I walked the entire 6laps. Through pure determination & hardwork, I recently ran 8:30 to beat my personal best of 8:47 which I’ve set back in 2010 during NS days when I was pacing my 45th ADWO trainees.
I signed up for two triathlons the year before, metasport & trifactor. Matter of fact, I signed up for the entire series of metasport but had to pass it up as it was early in the year & I was still a long road to full recovery. However, Trifactor in August presented me with an unique opportunity to finish what I started.
Being able to run, all I needed to do was to learn how to swim. Easy right? That’s what I thought. I decided to look up swim coaching in Singapore, & found out the rates $200 for 20 individual sessions. Then I thought to myself, since swimming pool entry at public pools are only $1, I’m sure I would be able to pick it up myself if I went 200times to the pool. As they say, practice makes perfect.
I worked at it at least 3 times a week, looking at how people swim, even how the coaches teach the kids & try to mimic the actions. Went on YouTube to find swim videos, even bought beginner swim magazine to know more. Eventually I picked it up & graduated to the deep pool where I trained for up to 1000m at a go even though the triathlon was just a freshmen category with 200m swim.
Today, I finished the Trifactor Triathlon. Like the slogan says, Try not hard. The inability to swim stemmed from a mental block which I put there. I realized that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Now that it’s gone, next year I’m going to take it up a notch & compete in the sprint distance.
I want to take this opportunity to thank a whole host of people. To all the passerbys who helped me out, by calling the ambulance & helping me to lock my bike, all, who I’ll probably never get to meet, Thank you.
The emergency medics who attended to me on the crash site, & dealt with my incoherence & helped call my mom. The accident & emergency nurses, doctors & staff at Tan Tock Seng Hospital who patched me up. Thank you.
Nurses at TTSH, you are truly angels. You are the most caring & compassionate bunch I’ve ever met.Those who were with me in the A&E, Neuro ICU, & in surgery. Thank you. Nurses in Ward 13B Thank you so much for all the encouragement & care throughout my stay there.
My physios in the ward, as well as my outpatient physios who helped me in my rehabilitation. Thanks for getting me back on my feet as soon as possible & solving my niggling back pain.
I want to thank all my friends who have been with me every step of the way. You know who you are, the support & encouragement I have received was overwhelming, no matter how big or small your actions, I couldn’t ask for more.
Lastly, I want to thank my family who has been so supportive all throughout. Especially my mom, who was a rock which I could lean on. Although I made her very worried when I told her I was getting back on the bike again, she has been very supportive & I know that despite all the nagging, deep down inside she cares a lot. Thanks mom, I love you a lot.
The best way to conquer your fear is to face it. Now, go forth & face your greatest fears head on. You can do it.